Ixalan is out, Battle for Zendikar and Shadows Over Innistrad blocks are gone and it's time to explore a new Standard. Unfortunately for us, competitors at the World Championship didn't show up with a wide variety of new decks – the field was basically Temur Energy, Blue-Black Control and Ramunap Red, none of them using many cards from the last set.
On one hand, we can think that the format is already solved and that there are the three dominant decks – or we can use it as a starting point for testing.
Since I didn't play at Worlds this year and that I still have some time before my next Standard tournament, I prefer to take a different approach. I like to brew in my corner and put together decks with new cards with potential.
I asked around if anybody had an idea of what I should be trying, and my good buddies from home, Eliott Boussaud and Germain Caillaba told me about a deck they put together but didn't really try out. Inspired by their list, I came up with the following 75. Introducing White-Green Servos (name open to change!)
Note: I made a few minor modifications during the leagues I recorded the videos, so all matches don't have the exact same 75 (just the same 72 or something)
The deck is built around the Sram's Expertise / Growing Rites of Itlimoc combo. Your plan is to transform the Rites into Cradle of Itlimoc and put it to good use.
This is a deckbuilding challenge because you're working with a lot of limitations:
- You need enough creatures in your deck to optimize Growing Rites of Itlimoc and give yourself a good chance to hit one in the top 4 cards of your library.
- You need ways to transform the Rites regularly if you don't have Sram's Expertise.
- You need payoffs, cards that allow you to spend all that green mana.
- You need a mana base that support early plays, four-mana spells and two colors.
The first version I was sent had a lot of different cards, especially in the three-drop slot: Rishkar, Peema Renegade, which helped your mana a bit but that I felt didn't do enough, and Master Trinketeer, a good payoff when you had a lot of mana but a card that wasn't doing enough on its own. The boost it was giving the Servos was irrelevant and unreliable most of the time.
I cut those to go up to four Legion's Landing, which is one of the best cards of the deck, and added three Resilient Khenra, which aren't great but fill the two-mana curve nicely and add some nice payoff when you have a lot of mana.
Legion's Landing along with Growing Rites of Itlimoc allows you to ramp up to four or six mana without having to play additional lands. To allow these enchantments to flip, you need more early creatures in addition to the Vampire Token.
Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter is a great one-drop that will give you a great late game the Cradle is transformed. You can't really play too many as it's Legendary and you actually need more creatures on the board, but the problem is there aren't too many other one-drops worth playing. Toolcraft Exemplar is probably the "least bad." Against an opponent with a slow draw, it's going to be fine. But most of the time, it's going to be just a body to help the rest of the deck.
Hope Tender is a nice two-drop that will allow you to play a Sram's Expertise on turn three (the dream) and later in the game, untap a Cradle for some crazy Walking Ballista action.
You have three win conditions:
- Walking Balllista is what makes this deck playable. Without it, you're not going anywhere. Just like Oviya, you need a creature early that will help survive the early game, and be strong later. It allows you to use the mana of Cradle on the same turn you transform it. You should have (at least) four creatures, and you can add a counter on the Ballista. It's not rare to have them got up to six or seven counters.
- Carnage Tyrant is your go-to threat against slow control decks. The Dinosaur doesn't really have a match in the format and the transformed enchantment make you ramp into it so it can be online before turn six.
- Shefet Dunes will provide a way to deal a lot of damage once you establish a large board presence with Servo tokens. You'll be trading and chumping most of the games, unless you can threaten lethal with an army of robots.
The deck is not top tier in Standard, nor even tier two. It has game against a lot of decks, as if its game plan is put in motions, it's going to be hard to stop (not a lot of decks can beat a generation of 20 mana a turn). However, it struggles against fast decks such as Temur Energy and Ramunap Red. They're not unbeatable matches (I beat each of them a few times in my leagues), but Longtusk Cub is a problem and Rampaging Ferocidon is a nightmare.
Overall, I'd say that this deck is fine but not something I'd bring to a tournament (at least not in that form). However, it's a ton of fun to play and have potential for different builds. Maybe it needs some red for Pia Nalaar, or another color? Maybe it needs a better mana base, or better one and two-drops in White and Green and in that case, we'll have to wait for the next sets to come out.
I hope you have as much fun as I had playing it!